last minute summer adventures
As summer comes to an end and the thought of school starting begins to take over, we always feel the urge to get one more little “adventure” in. Whether you are a college student thinking about your schedule and courses or a parent thinking about the art of packing lunches and washing clothes, take one more opportunity to get out and have some fun! Here are some of our top ideas for last minute adventures in the Lynchburg area. Most of these are close by, but all within about an hour or so from Lynchburg.
VIRGINIA SAFARI PARK
The Virginia Safari Park near Natural Bridge, Virginia is an awesome place for all ages. You can either drive through the park and feed “wild” animals out of your window or pay extra for the tractor ride. It is quite a sight to see these big animals come right up to your car. We always have great memories at the Safari Park, but have learned firsthand NOT TO FEED THE BUFFALO! You can get some great pictures and have a lot of fun here. Allow about 1-2 hours to get through the park. P.S. the camels may try and steal your food buckets…
If you have extra time after the Safari Park, check out Natural Bridge. This natural monument has been an attraction since before Thomas Jefferson owned it, but still remains an awesome sight. They will be doing a study on how structurally sound the bridge is, so you may want to see it before anything changes.
SWIM AT A STATE PARK
There are two State Parks within the area that are worth mentioning. Smith Mountain Lake State Park is popular for swimming. The sand beach is the only public swimming area on the lake and has a lifeguard during normal hours. To keep everyone happy, there is also fishing, boating, and hiking. If you have ever seen the movie What about Bob you may recognize this lake from the film.
A lesser known swimming spot is Holliday Lake State Park in Appomattox. They have a nice sandy beach along with plenty of fishing and boating. If you don’t want the crowd you get with Smith Mountain Lake, then Holliday Lake may be your choice. The park rents several styles of boats as well as paddle boards. There is a sizable trail system to use on foot, bike, or horseback.
We never seem to get out and fish as much as we'd like, but always enjoy it when we do. Kids really enjoy fishing (and throwing rocks in the water…) so here are a few spots you can try. Just don’t forget people over age 16 need a fishing license.
EASY – IVY CREEK PARK
Located off Old Forest Rd, this little lake has a lot to offer people with small children. There is a dock, playground, tables, and other amenities. It is easy for kids to fish right off the dock and the more experienced can cast a line just a few feet away. If the kids get bored there is plenty to keep them busy between the frogs and turtles in the pond, the playground, and you can even rent a canoe.
MEDIUM – LEESVILLE DAM
This spot is off the beaten path and takes a little research before you go, but can be a lot of fun. AEP owns and operates this dam to generate power, but it makes for great fishing too. Every hour water is released into the Roanoke River after a loud alarm sounds off. Move to high ground, but be ready to fish as soon as the water level drops.This place is fun for the kids and dad, plus has bathrooms and a boat launch on site. Look at the map ahead of time as you will need to drive down Taylor Ford Road from 43.
HARD – JAMES RIVER
If you are serious about bass fishing, then the James River is on your list. Regularly appearing in the top bass fishing lists in the country, the James River has a lot to offer. The James River offers some of the best bass fishing, but be prepared to work for it or have a boat.
There are a few places where you can rent a canoe in the Lynchburg area. Other sections mention Ivy Creek Park and Holliday Lake State Park, but there are also companies in town where you can rent a canoe to float down the James River. It’s a great time to take advantage of the cooler air, warm water, and slower flowing rivers and relax.
EXPLORE PEAKS OF OTTER AND THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
A fun gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway from Lynchburg is at the Peaks of Otter Entrance. Here you can find a visitor’s lodge for information, local points of interest and hiking, and the choice to go north or south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the views. You can see bears, deer, owls, and other wildlife along this scenic road. Pack a lunch and split your time between beautiful roadside views and fun hiking trails of varying difficulty. There is a lot to explore now and the fall colors will be here soon.
GO BACK IN TIME
The Lynchburg area has a lot of historical places that may be fun for you to check out. Some are more like a museum, while others are a little more hands on and immersive. Kids get a lot more into these places than you'd think, and it really is fun for the whole family. If you like history and want to discover more, then check out the links below.
List of historic sites in the city of Lynchburg
www.poplarforest.org/ - Located in Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s Summer Home
www.gravegarden.org/ - Lynchburg Old City Cemetery
www.historicsandusky.org/ - Civil War history in Lynchburg
www.avocamuseum.org/ - Located in Altavista, this historic home has a lot to offer
www.pointofhonor.org/ - This mansion and museum is full of information and activities
www.nps.gov/apco/index.htm – See where the Civil War officially ended
www.nps.gov/bowa/index.htm - Booker T. Washington’s childhood home and museum
www.dday.org/ - Pay respect to the greatest generation and learn about D-Day and the Bedford Boys
www.frontiermuseum.org/ - The furthest drive from Lynchburg, but offers the best hands on experience
We hope this helped you plan one more adventure before school begins. There is a lot to do in the area and this is only a small part. If there is a place that you like to go on an adventure that isn't listed above, please leave a comment below so we can share it with others!
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